I have always loved books. I loved reading when I was younger and found the love of reading again when I graduated from college and could actually read for “fun” and choose what I wanted to read. I wanted my children to love books and reading the same way I did. When they were younger, we had an area in our living room that was designated as their little reading corner.
Some of my most precious memories are of Ethan and Elissa bringing me their favorite books, crawling up into my lap, and snuggling up for a little story time. They had quite the collection of books, but they clearly had their favorites as most children do. We would read the same books over and over and over again. We had the words memorized. They had the words memorized. True confession time. I tried many times to just recite the story without opening the book or turning the pages because you see, both of my children have no vision. When Ethan and Elissa were much younger, they did not really care to explore the braille or the textured pages. So, I thought what does it matter if I open the book? But they knew every time and would get upset until I turned the pages and I had to turn the pages at the right time. They understood what was supposed to be happening during story time whether they could see the pages or not.
Looking back to those special moments, I can now point out so many positives that were happening regarding Early Literacy. When we hear of or think of the word literacy, we often think of learning or knowing how to read and write. Early Literacy, however, is not just teaching young children how to read and write. It is so much more. Early Literacy involves the development of a variety of skills that will support their overall learning. It begins at birth during the first moments of communication and bonding and promotes growth in all developmental areas which must occur before formal instruction in braille can even begin.
Early Literacy is not just books. When Ethan and Elissa snuggled up for story time, there was so much more learning going on than I knew. They were building their language bank and expanding their concept development. They were learning letter sounds, rhymes and engaging in receptive and expressive communication. They were working on fine and gross motor skills while turning pages, holding the books and sitting. They made choices when they picked out the book they wanted to read. They (eventually) participated in braille and tactile exploration. Lastly, and possibly most importantly, we bonded. We bonded over silly stories. We bonded over rhymes. We bonded over stories that we could recite without opening the book. It was so much more than them just loving listening to a story. We all loved the time spent together – cuddled up, bonding, and making precious memories.
I wanted my children to enjoy books. I wanted them to enjoy reading. They may be too big to sit in my lap and read a story together today, but we do cuddle up on a couch and talk about what books we are reading. So that my friends, is a success and goes to show Early Literacy is more than just books. It is really about the cuddles!